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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

4 September 2006

What price the health of Western Australians?

The Carpenter Government’s appalling disregard for the health of Western Australians continues, despite clear warnings that the Midland Brick kilns in the Swan valley are pumping out hydrogen fluoride at five times the acceptable level for human health.

Reports at the weekend confirm that Environment Minister Mark McGowan has now given the Swan Valley kiln complex two years to reduce its emissions to acceptable levels, after previously promising the WA parliament on 29 June this year that emissions levels would be cut within the month.

“The Department of Environment and Conservation (WA) will let Midland Brick cut poisonous emissions limits gradually over two years…Midland Brick and the Department [then] negotiated how to reduce emissions, with the department now conceding to let it (Midland Brick) cut them back to a gram a second by 2008.”

(The West Australian, 2 September 2006)

This is a flagrant and frightening disregard for the health of Western Australians who live under the Swan Valley air shed.

What have Swan Valley residents ever done to Mr McGowan or the Carpenter Government to deserve such reprehensible lack of concern for their health?

This cavalier disregard for the WA public is the latest bungled chapter in a saga which began with the reckless decision by Mr McGowan’s predecessor two years ago to allow the Midland Brick kilns to operate with dangerous levels of emissions.

Midland Brick should not be given two years to slowly reduce its emissions. I call on the Carpenter Government to direct the brick manufacturer to seek ways to reduce emissions immediately and bring an end to this sorry state of affairs.

This is no laughing matter, Hydrogen fluoride is a highly toxic compound which can severely irritate and burn the eyes, irritate and burn the skin, with long-term exposure resulting in damage to liver and kidneys. It can also lead to a variety of ailments including hypocalcaemia, which can affect the nervous system, leading to spasms of the larynx, cardiac arrhythmia, and death.

Media contact: Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902

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